Spring II Courses: Beyond Belief (Dickinson) and Masters of Suspicion (Walden)


Here are the reading schedules for the CHI classes starting on 02 and 04 May.

Masters of Suspicion IV: The Power of Walden Pond

This class examines Thoreau’s classic “Walden” through the lens of what it reveals about those tendencies of modern society that Thoreau noted and have become more pronounced over time. Each lecture touches on Thoreau’s insights as they illuminate alternative ways of living tangentially to, rather than enmeshed by, a world dominated by invisible power systems fed and perpetuated by unnecessary assumptions. Although Thoreau’s vision for how to dwell has limitations, the lectures nonetheless will discuss how to think through his model and how it can be put into practice today.

Classes will meet live on Mondays from 12-1 in room 209 of the Senior Center in Iowa City. There’s a suggested donation of $80, but all are free to simply come and learn.


02 May: “Economy”

09 May: “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”

16 May: “Reading,” “Sounds,” “Solitude”

23 May: “Visitors,” “The Bean-Field,” “The Village”

06 June: “The Ponds,” “Baker Farm,” “Higher Laws”

13 June: “Brute Neighbors,” “House-Warming,” “Former Inhabitants; and Winter


20 June: “Winter Animals,” “The Pond in Winter,” “Conclusion”

27 June: “Spring,” “Conclusion”


Beyond Belief II: Dickinson’s Theology

Emily Dickinson was born into an Amherst dominated by a Christianity that she ultimately seems to have found inadequate—at least given the tenor of her poetry. The first portion of this course will read her implicit criticism of traditional modes of Christian practice at a time when secular logics were beginning to dominate, noting the alternatives she saw. The second portion of the course will look at her more radical theological vision, a faith that surpasses traditional tenets of God, Faith, Prayer, and Heaven in order to provide a way of living in the world that embraces uncertainty, humility, and creativity. All poems are posted on the website

Classes will meet live on Wednesdays from 12-1 in room 209 of the Senior Center in Iowa City. There’s a suggested donation of $80, but all are free to simply come and learn. The full text of the poems are attached just below.

Readings: Please click the hyperlink:  Dickinson Poems

04 May: On Keeping:

FR236 Some keep the Sabbath…

11 May: On Prayer:

FR 5461: I prayed at first a little girl

FR6232: Prayer is the little implement

18 May: On Heaven:

FR437: I never felt at Home—Below

FR544: “Heaven” has different Signs – to me –

25 May: The Death of God

FR1581: Those—dying then

FR365: I know that He exists.

FR1752: God is indeed a jealous God

01 June: On Prayer II

            FR377: At least to pray is left

            FR525: My Period had come for Prayer

08 June: On Faith:

FR202: “Faith” is a fine invention

FR978: Faith—is the Pierless Bridge

15 June: On Heaven II:

FR 476: We pray to heaven

FR 1435: The Fact that Earth is Heaven

22 June: On Perceiving Paradise

FR 1734: Eden is that old fashioned House

FR1125: Paradise is of the Option

FR849: By my Window have I for Scenery